Georgians’ natural gas bills could rise with $96 million AGL request

Metro Atlanta consumers would see their natural gas bills rise if a $96 million rate increase proposed by Atlanta Gas Light on Monday is approved.

The increase is the largest requested in recent memory by AGL, according to a spokesman for the Georgia Public Service Commission. The PSC’s elected members will consider the request later this year. The change would add about $3.80 a month for average residential customers of natural gas marketers served by the pipeline company, according to AGL.

If approved, the increase could appear in bills starting January 1.

AGL rates appear as a portion of monthly bills for customers of companies serving about 1.6 million customers in Georgia. Consumers typically also pay charges for the amount of natural gas used and sales tax.

“Throughout the rate request process, the Public Service Commission will work with Atlanta Gas Light to ensure the customers’ interests are protected,” said PSC spokesman Tom Krause.

AGL president Bryan Batson wrote in a filing that the company’s rates are competitive with its Southeastern peers and will remain so.

He said the new rates are necessary in part to retain system safety and reliability.

Meanwhile, Georgia Power is expected to file a new rate request this summer that could affect customers of the state’s largest electric company. AGL and Georgia Power are both subsidiaries of Atlanta-based utility giant Southern Company.

AGL last filed for a traditional rate increase in 2010, when the PSC approved a $26.5 million increase, which represented a nearly 10% increase in residential rates, according to the PSC. In 2017, using a more streamlined review, the PSC granted an additional $20.3 million increase, which for residential customers amounted to about a 5% increase.

Last year, rates essentially remained the same but the company provided a total of $16.3 million in bill credits, primarily in July and October, to account for lowered costs due to changes in federal tax law.

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